Wyoming certainly put forth a strong effort but ultimately fell short in the Mountain West opener. The Cowboys (14-3) couldn't contain the hot shooting New Mexico Lobos (15-2) and gave up a season high 72 points in the loss. At the half the Pokes were down 34-30 and then fought back in the second to make it a one score game. That is when their shots stopped falling for seven minutes. The Lobos also struggled for but eventually back in the groove and were able to start making some more shots. They opened up a large gap and it was just to much for the Cowboys to fight back.
Despite the loss there were several positives that happened in the game. The first has to be the crowd which was announced at 6,955 which was the largest in at least three years. The student section was loud and really into game which has been a a rarity over the last few seasons. The media and players said that the crowd and atmosphere was fantastic. If it can grow from here the Dome of Doom may be back in full swing this year. For 30 minutes the Cowboys were right with the Lobos were picked to win the Mountain West at the start of the year.
Larry Nance played very well off the bench. He made several key plays on defense and more aggressive on offense. He only finished with four points but he did try and attack the basket more often when he had the ball which was something he has been working on lately. The Cowboys only 10 turnovers compared to 15 for New Mexico and scored 18 points off those turnovers. The real difference was the depth of the Lobos who had 22 points off the bench. Wyoming had their rotation limited even further because Derrious Gilmore didn't play because he reopened a gash on his finger. That forced JayDee Luster to play 37 minutes. Luke Martinez also played 37 and Francisco Cruz actually played 38 minutes. Kendall Williams was the only Lobo to play over 30 minutes. The Cowboys simply ran out of gas in the second half and weren't able to keep up with constant rotation of fresh players from New Mexico.
Next up the Cowboys travel to Colorado Springs to take on Air Force on Wednesday. Then they are back home next weekend to the host Colorado State. Both of those games are winnable for this team.
Cowboy Joe: Ironman Pako Cruz finished with a game high 22 points on 9 of 16 shooting. He was four of six from behind the arc. He also added four rebounds and three steals to complete his solid performance.
Cowboy Low: The scoring drought in the second doomed this strong effort by the Cowboys. They weren't able to take advantage of missed shots by New Mexico and they started making shots again once it was too late.
Cowboy Foe: Jamal Fenton and Kendall Williams started hitting threes in the second and triggered the Lobos opening up a sizeable cushion over the Cowboys.